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The Secret Behind The “X” On Kennedy’s Neck On U.S. Half Dollars

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By Joshua

You may have noticed a little mark or symbol on President John F. Kennedy’s neck on the half dollar and wonder what it means…

It looks something like a fancy “X” near the center of Kennedy’s neck — under the bottom portion of his neck.

Some believe it has something to do with the young president’s assassination wounds.

Others say it’s a communist symbol on the Kennedy half dollar.

Many others have no clue what this mark on the Kennedy half dollar means and want to know more about it.

I was also curious about this X mark on Kennedy’s neck on the half dollar and wanted to find out more about this symbol that some might say looks ominous.

Guess what?…

I found out why it’s there and what it really means!

Does The Mark On Kennedy’s Neck Refer To The President’s Assassination?

There is so, sooooo much about this theory — both online and in print — that I’ve seen over the years.

I won’t go into the details about how Kennedy was assassinated, except to say there is gruesome film out there that shows the whole thing. I don’t want or need to see it again, and I’m not going to link to it.

But suffice it to say there are many valid reasons why someone might think the symbol on Kennedy’s neck could have some reference to Kennedy’s assassination, how he was assassinated, or where he sustained injuries.

However, the “X”-style mark on Kennedy’s neck on the half dollar actually has NOTHING to do with President Kennedy’s assassination or how he was killed.

Is That A Communist Symbol On Kennedy’s Neck On The Half Dollar?

Many people — and I mean many people — think the mark on Kennedy’s neck has something to do with communists. This isn’t a new conspiracy theory, either. It’s been alive and well since right after the first Kennedy half dollars were released in 1964.

So, why do people think the symbol on the Kennedy half dollar has communist connections? Take a closer look at it…

Some would tell you that it resembles the hammer and sickle symbol that represented the Soviet Union and its communist beliefs in the 20th century. (The hammer represented workers and the sickle symbolized peasants.)

The curious thing is that the supposed hammer and sickle reference on the Kennedy half dollar wasn’t the first symbol on U.S. coins that was thought to have communist connections.

There was a bit of a red scare with U.S. coins in the 1940s, after U.S. Mint chief engraver John R. Sinnock placed his “JS” initials near the base of the bust on the newly designed Roosevelt dime in 1946. Those who will recall their world history lessons know that “J” and “S” were the initials of Communist Russian leader Joseph Stalin. Some believe that maybe a communist insider at the U.S. Mint secretly placed the “JS” on the Roosevelt dime.

Many in the American public were so upset by the “JS” letters on the Roosevelt dime and its feared communist connections that the United States Mint had to put out a press statement to squash the pervasive and completely untrue rumors.

This helped quell some of the criticism, but the situation got out of hand again in 1948, when the Sinnock-designed Franklin half dollar was released — this time bearing the initials “JRS.”

It’s a little perplexing that the public got so stirred up over the “JRS” letters on the Franklin half dollar and the supposed communist connections to Joseph Stalin. It’s particularly confusing because Stalin’s middle name began with a “V” (Vissarionovich) instead of an “R.”

As it turns out, the symbol on Kennedy’s neck on the half dollar actually has NOTHING to do with communists or the Soviet Union.

The Secret Behind The X Neck Symbol On Kennedy Half Dollars Revealed

Okay, so the mark on Kennedy’s neck on the half dollar has nothing to do with Kennedy’s assassination, and it doesn’t have any communist connections either.

So, what does the symbol on the Kennedy half dollar mean?

It’s the stylized monogram of United States Mint chief engraver Gilroy Roberts, who designed the head’s side (obverse) of the coin!

His bust of President Kennedy is paired with the Presidential Seal on the tail’s side (reverse), which was designed by sculptor-engraver Frank Gasparro.

Roberts, who had an illustrious career as a sculptor-engraver, had to set the record straight when people criticized his monogram on Kennedy’s neck on the half dollar

“It’s my monogram, a G. and an R. in script, combined. It might look like two sickles maybe,” Roberts said in an interview around the time of the Kennedy half dollar’s release. “But it looks nothing like a hammer and sickle at all. You’ve got to have a slanted mind to see that there.”

It’s pretty hard to argue with the designer of the coin himself, right?

A Little About The Coin’s Designer, Gilroy Roberts

Gilroy Roberts was a very talented artist.

He eventually went on to do a lot of designing and engraving work for the Franklin Mint — a private coin-manufacturing facility located in Wawa, Pennsylvania.

An immersive exhibit about Gilroy Roberts was created at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Interestingly, the college was opened in the same building where the Philadelphia Mint operated for most of the 20th century.

That’s where Roberts worked in the mid-20th century — back when the place was still an operating mint.

And it’s even where he designed the obverse of the Kennedy half dollar!

I visited the Gilroy Roberts Gallery in Philadelphia back in 2019 and really enjoyed the experience. It’s well worth the trip if you’re looking for fun things to do in Philadelphia and have the opportunity to visit.

Do you have a strange looking coin and want to know more about it? Have you spotted a unique marking on one of your U.S. coins and wonder what it means? Post a picture of your coin in the comments below and I’ll try to help!